Good news for Gambian artists

Wednesday, April 04, 2018

The Ministry of Justice and that of Tourism and Culture deserve commendation for having worked hard to have the Copyright Regulations, 2018 promulgated last week.

The Copyright Act which is designed for the protection of copyright in The Gambia and matters connected therewith was passed by the National Assembly in 2004. The Act places the administration of copyright in the National Centre Arts Culture(NCAC) and goes further to mandate the setting up of two outfits for the implementation of an effective copyright regime. One is the Copyright Office or Bureau under the NCAC charged specifically with the registration of works, sensitization of rights holders and users, and enforcement of compliance with the law, especially against piracy and the misuse of protected works.

The other body is the Collecting Society of The Gambia (CSG) which is charged with the collection and distribution of royalties among rights holders. This is an independent body corporate that comprises rights holders with a Board constituted by representatives of individual groups of rights holders such as Writers, Publishers, Musicians, Theatre practitioners, Film Makers, etc.

It is in the interest of government to see to it that there is an effective copyright regime. As government cannot provide jobs to all citizens, it is apt policy for government to provide or facilitate gainful self-employment to citizens through the creative arts. The arts are one such area that has huge potential to alleviate the unemployment burden.

This is particularly important for the youthful population many of whom have chosen the arts for their livelihood. The least government can do is therefore to provide the enabling legislation and environment for them to gain a decent livelihood from their preoccupations. Ensuring an effective copyright regime, as seen in the signing of the Regulations last Wednesday, can be viewed as part of this effort on the part of government. So many of our great artists such as Paps Touray, Musa Ngum, Labbah Sosseh and writers like Lenrie Peters did not get much from the fruit of their labour due to lack of royalties. We now hope that this will no longer be the case.

But there is more to copyright than this isolated fact. Above all, effective copyright serves to inspire more creativity. Once a creator knows that he or she stands to gain from his/her original creations, he/she will be motivated to deliver more original creations, assured of benefits to self and dependants for a considerable period, in our case for 50 years after the passing of the original creator.

We wish to commend government for this great step in promoting Gambian  arts and culture. Now we urge for government’s commitment to support the gestation period of the Copyright Society, conscious that this is body  has huge potential to be self-sustaining after two years of operations.

 


Author: A Guest Editorial